5 Effects of Sleep Deprivation

5 Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep can be a very elusive thing. When some people go to sleep they seem to be able to flip a switch and hit their slumber in no time. However, many other people are sleep compromised and often struggle with sleep deprivation. 

According to the American Sleep Apnea Association,

“In America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night…It is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes…The National Institutes of Health predicts that America’s sleep debt is on the rise and that by the middle of the 21st century more than 100 million Americans will have difficulty falling asleep.”

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has been quoted as stating that, “Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic”.

With one or more of eighty different sleep disorders people may be afflicted with, these 5 effects of sleep deprivation can be the result. Know the risks of getting less than six hours of sleep per night and find out some options that may help get you back into dreamland. 

Compromised Brain Cognition

Lacking adequate sleep can be highly detrimental when it comes to proper decision making. This is becoming more of a concern regarding essential job performance such as an airline pilot or surgeon. 

A study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that less than six hours sleep per night on a regular basis can be extremely serious. Study author Kimberly Fenn commented, 

“Our research showed that sleep deprivation doubles the odds of making place-keeping errors and triples the number of lapses in attention, which is startling,..Sleep-deprived individuals need to exercise caution in absolutely everything that they do, and simply can’t trust that they won’t make costly errors. Oftentimes – like when behind the wheel of a car – these errors can have tragic consequences.”

Systemic Inflammation and Immune Suppression

Sleep is a big proponent of a healthy immune system however when sleep is deprived over long periods of time, immune functions can be suppressed. As a result, not only is your best defense against pathogens compromised but the systemic result can be a continued, low-grade inflammatory response that jeopardizes cells, joints, organs, and so much more. 

Published in Pflugers Archival study journal, research by German scientists found that,

“Prolonged sleep curtailment and the accompanying stress response invoke a persistent unspecific production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, best described as chronic low-grade inflammation, and also produce immunodeficiency, which both have detrimental effects on health.”

Cardiovascular Disease

An irregular sleep pattern has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease. One study looked at subjects that experienced a lack of sleep scheduling, namely there was no set time to go to sleep or maintain an optimal duration of sleep. 

The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) concluded that,

“Higher day-to-day variations in sleep duration and timing are both associated with increased risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease],…our results support considering inconsistent sleep patterns as a novel CVD risk factor and suggest the need to evaluate the role of healthy sleep practice interventions as a strategy for cardiovascular risk reduction.”

Brain Eating

When you sleep your brain actually cleans itself by triggering a host of processes that includes activating glial cells called astrocytes as well as microglial cells. 

The astrocytes prune worn synapses and actual remodel brain wiring for optimal functioning the next day. However, when sleep is chronically compromised, astrocytes can sort of go haywire and clean up more than they should. 

Lead study author, Michele Bellesi of the Marche Polytechnic University in Italy commented, 

“We show for the first time that portions of synapses are literally eaten by astrocytes because of sleep loss,” 

Bellesi and his team also looked at the behavior of the microglial cells which primarily scans the brain for debris and damaged cells. The study found that microglial cells were significantly active in subjects suffering from sleep loss. This was disconcerting because, as Bellesi described, 

“We already know that sustained microglial activation has been observed in Alzheimer’s and other forms of neurodegeneration”

If you are sleeping less than six hours per night, it may be highly beneficial to your health that you find ways to attain more sleep time. These is a good checklist to help you begin working on getting a more healthful slumber:

  • Temperature – Keep it fairly cool so you do not overheat. The optimal sleep agrees are: 60–67°F (15.6–19.4°C) 
  • Breathe – There are several breaths g exercise you can research which can be applied to falling asleep. Look for the 4-7-8 breathing method to start.
  • Schedule – Try to go to sleep the same time every night. This way your body will begin to expect it and release more of the sleep inducing hormone melatonin.
  • Darken It – A very dark room has been linked to more optimal sleep.
  • White Noise – Having a deep drone of “white noise” can often mesmerize one into deep sleep in no time.
  • Food for Sleep – Stop eating and drinking at least four hours before bed. However, a banana in that time window may help induce sleep due to its muscle relaxing ingredient of potassium.
  • Turn off your electronics – Enough said here
  • Aromatherapy – Experiment with relaxing essential oils such as lavender and jasmine.
  • Sleep Supplements – Checking with your doctor first, there are several supplements that may help induce sleep including: melatonin, L–theanine, GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), and magnesium.

Don’t suffer these 5 effects of sleep deprivation and find ways to make sure you get all the zzzz’s you need.